By Mike Gleason
Witchcraft in Yorkshire, by Patricia Crowther
Harvest Shadows, 9780974174013, 71 pp., 1973, 2008
The public perception of Witchcraft (or Wicca, if you prefer) has come a long way in 35 years. Looking through this short facsimile edition of Patricia Crowther’s 1973 work will make abundantly clear. Books written today tend to be too dedicated to explaining the history of the Craft, the contributions of various “names” in the community and forget about the witches were feared as often as admired and that there was (and is) a basis in local folklore. In the beginning, there was more emphasis on the more recent history and memories.
Ms. Crowther, one of Gerald Gardner’s priestesses, has gathered together folklore and stories from her home county and tied them all together in an entertaining narrative. There is no attempt to convey any impression of modern Witchcraft. In fact, modern Witchcraft and its practitioners are never mentioned within the covers of this book.
This is the type of book many of us “old timers” encountered when we began reading about Witchcraft. There weren’t any rituals or invocations; no debates about eclectic versus traditional; there were simply stories, legends, and folktales. These may be what inspired many of us to dig deeper.
There is a separate sheet listing the author’s corrections to the text, since the intent was to produce an exact copy of the original edition.
It is a pleasure to see this book back in print. I hope to see more of the early works reprinted. They may help the younger generation to understand where we came from and why we turned out this way.